Access to remain open for Wilkshire Hills area
March 20, 2008
The Wilkshire Hills region of northern Tuscarawas County is expected to retain vehicle access while floodwaters continue to rise into next week.
A connection between North Orchard Rd. (Tuscarawas County Rd. 103) and Glen Park Dr. (Lawrence Township Rd. 617) over Bolivar Dam to Gracemont and Sherman Church Rds. is open for passenger vehicle use only and will not be covered by water if current projections are met. Residents and businesses in the region officially were notified Wednesday (March 19) that access would be maintained through the crests of the floodwaters, which is expected to occur early next week.
Rt. 800 north of Mineral City also is expected to remain open throughout the increased water levels.
However, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), which operates the flood-reduction dams in the region, also has projected that the northbound I-77 interchange at Rt. 212 at Wilkshire Hills will close late Wednesday or Thursday, and Dover-Zoar Rd. (Tuscarawas County Rd. 82) will be closed by floodwaters as early as Thursday night (March 20).
The USACE also plans to conduct routine maintenance at Zoar Levee to address seepage sometime this week.
USACE officials said Wednesday it projects that three of the flood-reduction dams it operates - Dover, Atwood and Leesville - will set new records for floodwaters retained behind the dams. The National Weather Service projected about 1.5 inches of rain to fall over the region from 7 a.m. Wednesday to about 8 a.m. Thursday (March 20), and another quarter inch to fall on Friday (March 21).
Tuscarawas County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HS/EMA) officials sent Reverse 911 telephone messages Wednesday morning to about 50 residences in Zoarville to inform them that the village will be isolated by Thursday (March 20). However, firefighters in the area have established a vehicle parking lot and walking path into the village off Tusky Valley Rd. near the railroad tracks. Firefighters encourage residents to move their vehicles to the parking area and use the walking path.
A Reverse 911 telephone message also was used Wednesday to contact more than 1,800 residences, businesses and other locations in Wilkshire Hills.
Patty Levengood, director of the Tuscarawas County HS/EMA, announced that her office has opened the county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to assist officials and residents with information and other needs. The EOC will remain open 24 hours a day until the situation has improved, possibly through this weekend. The EOC can be contacted at (330) 308-6655.
Downstream, increased water levels on the Tuscarawas River prompted New Philadelphia firefighters to issue door-to-door flood warning information to residents along 4th St. Ext. SE and Dogwood Ln. SE. USACE officials said they expect the Tuscarawas River at New Philadelphia to rise about a half foot above flood stage overnight Wednesday, and then fall beginning Thursday morning.
Road closing information is available by calling the Tuscarawas County HS/EMA Emergency Information Line at (330) 339-7838. Road closings also have been posted on the county sheriff's website at www.co.tuscarawas.oh.us/sheriff and other information will be posted as needed on the HS/EMA website at www.co.tuscarawas.oh.us/EMA.
Officials said updated information on water levels behind the area dams are available online by visiting the USACE website at www.lrh-wc.usace.army.mil/wc/musns.htm.
Levengood said residents will be notified of any potential isolation issues through the county's Reverse 911 communication system, in which telephone calls are placed to individual residences, businesses and other locations with official information and warnings.
Public Information Administrator
Toll-free: (877) 363-8500
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